Chesham, Lady, Marion, 1903-1973

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Chesham, Lady, Marion, 1903-1973

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1903-1973

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Lady Chesham, b. 1903 in Philadelphia, married her third husband, Lord Chesham, in 1938. Chesham had recently bought the Southern Highlands Estate in Tanganyika with the intention of encouraging English immigration to counter the effect of the increasing German settlement of Tanganyika. After a delay caused by the war the Cheshams started farming and attempted to sub-let portions of the estate in 1946, but the land was unsuitable for large-scale settlement and the venture was never really successful. Lord Chesham died in 1952. By 1955 Lady Chesham had become a leading local spokesman for the Capricorn Africa Society; but after various disagreements with CAS leaders, she stood as an independent candidate in the 1959 election. She and Derek Bryceson were the European candidates most closely aligned with TANU, the African nationalist party led by Julius Nyerere, and with whose support she was elected. Her friendship with Nyerere dated from that time and she served as an important intermediary between him and Government officials. In 1961, after lobbying successfully in London against a proposed cut in development aid to Tanganyika, she became a Tanganyikan citizen. She then conceived the idea of a funding agency to collect money overseas and channel it into small scale rural development in Tanganyika. Lady Chesham became executive director of the Community Development Trust Fund in 1961, and held the post until 1971. She was a member of the Tanganyika Legislative Council from 1958 to 1962 and of the National Assembly from 1962 until the union of that country with Zanzibar in 1964. She retired in 1972. Lady Chesham died in Guildford, England, in 1973.

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